Ken Marchant comments on Here Comes the Immersive Internet

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An interesting post Lawrence, lots of areas to focus on.
How long do you feel it will take for immersive environments to become the norm? I have concerns that there will be some challenging times to change employees mindsets to embrace this technology fully. The quote from Dan Hunter:
"I confidently predict that my kids… will end up working in one or more of these worlds." may be a little to soon.
I hope I am wrong and that it comes around a lot sooner!

Here Comes the Immersive Internet

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Herefollows my summary of Chapter 1 of Learning in 3D – Adding a New Dimension to Enterprise Learning and Collaboration.

This forms part of a collaborative exercise designed by Hans de Zwart, Learning Innovation Manager @ Shell to which I have been invited. Hans blogs at:

My approach to this this excercise has been as follows:

  1. Orientation
    Examine the reference definitions presented on p343-362
  2. Skim-read all chapters
    Pick-out initial points of interest

  • Examine interconnections and relationships with parallel/converging references
  • First-read chapter one
    Consolidate points of interest
  • Mindmap excercise
  • Test interconnects & practical work: engage in 2nd life activity
  • Second-read
    Select key points for summary
  • Prologue

    In order to fully engage with the topic, it was important to me to begin to unfold a clearer understanding of ‘immersion’ as a term and, furthermore, what the intrinsic value of it could be in a wider context.
    My ‘chapter 1′ position on this is as follows:

    a)’Immersion’ is not simply a matter of additional dimensions or sensory stimuli.

    b)The elements of immersion that are of particular value/interest to me are:

    • Agreement/colusion to suspend disbelief
    • Narrative (as defined by Roland Barthes’ Introduction to the Structural Analysis of Narrative –
    • Story
    • Context
    • Engagement/enchantment
    • Meaning

    c)It is possible to create a highly complex, media-rich, 3D, digital experience which fails to ‘immerse’ its audience.

    d)There are examples of highly effective meatspace immersion e.g. a story, well told, engages its audience fully who, to all intents and purposes, are fully immersed in the content. Indeed, this immersion can be all the more thorough as the images, sounds and spacial content is generated by the most powerful simulation hardware & software engine known: the brain & mind.
    It is this that we need check against when designing and implementing our digital equivalents.
    In my own case, having worked on many 3D projects, I have been susceptible to be dazzled by the technology aspects at the expense of focus on the underlying core values.

    One of the most pleasant surprises thus far has been some key reference material for an ‘architecture of wisdom’ in which I have been pursuit for some time. But more of that later.

    With that out of the way, let’s dive in…


    Here we have presented a key spur for the progression toward an immersive approach to learning:

    ‘In learning, we spent years implementing learning management systems that are essentially prisons for learning content. …we missed the point about learning’.p. xi

    It is clear that the learning technology approaches adopted thus far need to change:
    ‘… data does not give us meaning’ p.xii
    ‘Human interaction is what gives us meaning’ p.xii

    We have witnessed the journey of Internet from ‘digital billboard’ to a ‘place‘ for meaning to be found and interaction to occur.(p.xii).

    The legacy practises within some organisations which do not foster place, context, collaboration & meaning are criticised as ‘deeply dysfunctional’ p.xii.

    Clearly, there is need for change.


    P.xv Kicks off with a case for the value of a architecture/framework when approaching the creation of immersive learning experiences, drawing an analogy with building architecture.
    Whilst setting out its stall as a reference text for organisations designing ‘meaningful’ 3D worlds, the text reveals that it is coming from a traditional pedagogical perspective ‘ guidelines… for someone teaching in a 3D virtual world’.p.xix
    I am not sure if the pedagogical-over-dialogical approach is due more to the need for the text to not be proposing disruption to existing training archetypes in order to be more readily accepted/adopted by organisations.

    Chapter 1

    The first chapter kicks off with a great example of realtime collaboration via social media (facebook) which illustrates well the potential for dexterity and flexiblity of people and tools to respond to a threat or opportunity.

    The Invisibly Pervasive Web p.4

    The chapter begins the journey that it is going to take us through the development of the internet and its impact to people and organisations, using as its starting point the introduction of the Mosaic browser in 1993.
    It makes an interesting assertion that what is occurring is an ‘acceleration of the co-evolution of society and technology’ (my emphasis). Also making the observation of the internet as ‘a pervasive and expanding ecosystem whose central purpose is to facilitate collective action, learning & growth’.

    Welcome to the Webvolution p.7

    A story of the phases leading to the present internet age:

    • Web 1.0 was focussed on connecting “TO” the web;
    • Web 2.0 is focussed on connecting “THROUGH” the web;
    • Web 3.0, which is happening now, is focussed on connecting “WITHIN” the web.

    There is a very useful diagram on p.8 that includes a description of the changes in value proposition for the three phases above, ranging from ‘Access’ for Web 1.0 through to ‘co-create’ for Web 3.0.

    A number of examples are given of specific businesses and services that illustrate the changes between the three phases.

    Key themes here are:

    • The journey for users:
      From passive to active
      From consumption to production

  • The need & potential for business to change to adapt to/exploit the changing landscape :
    ‘Instead of working for eBay, eBay works for them’.
  • The revolution and value-creating potential of collaboration & co-creation.
  • The Immersive Internet: Collaborate and Co-Create

    Gaming platforms are introduced as successful examples of the 3D internet – World of Warcraft and Second Life.
    Also introduced are the significant economies, virtual and meatspace, that have grown-up around them.

    On the impact that such environments will have on future working patterns, Wharton professor Dan Hunter is quoted: ” I confidently predict that my kids… will end up working in one or more of these worlds.”p.14

    Social Production Comes of Age

    This section focusses heavily on the democratising impact of the 2nd & 3rd phases of the webvolution and the changes, amongst other things, from traditional ‘employee’ roles to ‘entrepreneur’ roles.
    There is a useful diagram on page 15 that illustrates this.
    This section cites that individuals now have a much greater degree of autonomy over what they are engaged and the extent to which they are engaged in it.
    It also observes that entrepreneurial start-ups are exploiting social production much more than traditional enterprises.

    The Immersive Internet Singularity

    This section first highlights the connection between the development of enterprise IT architecture and the progression toward the ‘immernet’ – ‘the delivery of the immersive characteristics of the 3D environments over the internet’ – P.17

    The achievement of the ‘immernet’ is also described as a ‘singularity’ e.g. convergence of ’4 discrete software arenas’:

    Convergence Point 1
    Integration of 2D collaboration tools with knowledge management systems.

    Convergence Point 2
    User-tagging of content.
    ‘More tagging means more knowledge accidents of both the people-to-people and people to information kind.’

    Convergence Point 3
    Integrated 3D Social Networking
    e.g. MySpace to become ‘MySPACE’

    Convergent Point 4
    Immersive 3D Immersive 3D Learning Experience
    ‘Immersive experience that drives sustained engagement’.
    Dissolution of formal structures.
    ‘The Future might consist of a billion one-person enterprises- people who act as free agents moving freely and frequently from project to project as their skills, focus and passion shift.’

    Business Unusual

    This for me is the crux of the chapter and the point to which it has been leading as the launch pad for the chapters that follow.
    The fate that awaits an enterprise that fails to change sufficiently rapidly is illustrated using the analogy of a balloon within a pressure chamber whereby, if the molecules inside the balloon move slower that those that surround it, the balloon will collapse.

    So, this really is the point. Innovation requires collaboration, experience, knowledge, feedback, learning, sharing and as high an incidence as possible of collisions between these and opportunity.
    “knowledge accidents” &
    “The magic moment wherein expertise collides with opportunity” p.21

    As we have seen above, it is the power of the immernet and the potential of the webvolution to enable people and organisations to gain better understanding and interaction with information and other people through narrative, context and meaning.

    To do this, ‘organisations will be challenged to rethink their business and academic models from the ground up’. p.22

    During our call, I would like to explore our experiences, understanding and potential of context, narrative & meaning within enterprise learning and the extent to which 3D immersive learning could potentially exploit this.

    ‘Innovation drives profitable growth..Insights are generated from serendipitous knowledge accidents- magic moments wherein expertise collides with opportunity’online survey

    It is possible to accurately measure business value of Immernet-based learningsurvey software


    Learning in 3D – Chapter 4 – Architecting Learning Experiences

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    When I was reading this chapter I thought: how can I use this in my work and not read this as an academic piece. To give some context to my work: I work for Shell and I design and develop learning events, call it an instructional designer if you like.


    Chapter 4 starts with grounding principles to develop immersive and engaging 3DLE’s. The core for these grounding principles are:

    1. All 3DLE’s should be grounded in solid instructional design approaches and…
    2. Require reflective synthesis at the individual and team level

    From these core principles the following principles are mentioned. One Key Question (KQ) is added per principle to relate to the work of an instructional designer. There are more questions per principle taken from table 4.1. on page 77.

    a)     Instructionally Grounded. Like any other learning intervention it should address a business need and the objectives should be tuned to address that business need
    KQ: Is the learning intervention addressing a vetted business or educational need?

    b)     Reflectively Synthesized. In a 3DLE there always should be reflection of the skills taught. Participants should not leave the experience without passing a reflection loop.
    KQ: How is personal reflection accommodated in the design?

    c)     The Experiential Principles. In a 3DLE participants experience and internalize the learning in visceral or intuitive way.
    KQ: No Key Question mentioned in table… What would you as instructional designer ask?

    The following six remaining principles are aimed at the 3DLE design process itself.

    a)     Participant Centered. The participant should be the center of the learning experience. Their (inter)actions have consequential outcomes within the learning experience and the contextual design must accommodate this. Learning objectives are not covered conversationally but through experience.
    KQ: Does the design place the participants in the center of the experience?

    b)     Contextually Situated. The more authentic and engaging the challenge in a 3DLE, the more powerful the learning experience will be.
    KQ: What situational contexts best accommodate the learning objective of the intervention?

    c)     Discovery Driven. In a 3DLE the motivation must be built into the flow of the participant’s (inter)action. By selectively revealing information (e.g. cues, clues) and incentives over time motivation can be sustained.
    KQ: What information or incentives can be selectively revealed to motivate engagement and collaborative action?

    d)     Action Oriented. 3DLE’s are situational and problem-centered and revolve around tasks not topics. It’s not about being there, it’s about doing there.
    KQ: What are the key actions and interactions that trigger teachable moments for the participants?

    e)     Consequentially Experienced. Moving back and forth between action and reflection, getting immediate constructive feedback, to improve performance.
    KQ: What are the consequences of failure for the participant?

    f)      Collaboratively Motivated. Shift from structured teaching to social and situated peer-to-peer learning where participants are simultaneously consumers of and contributors to the learning experience.
    KQ: How is collaboration encouraged by the design?

    For me these are the most important principles mentioned in this chapter. I could take these principles and the appropriate questions into any discussion when talking about a learning event. I realize these are specifically for 3DLE’s, but I like them as additional learning principles for any learning event to shift people’s mindset to learning in the 21st century.


    A macro level architectural blueprint is presented to make designing a 3DLE’s more effective. These macrostructure overlay the earlier presented design principles. For each macrostructure I will mention the related Grounding Principle (GP). Figure 4.2 on page 79 also shows the relation between the design principles and the macrostructures.

    The four macrostructures are:

    1)     Agency: Ability of the person operating the avatar to take action.
    GP: Participant centered

    2)     Exploration: Ability to navigate the environment and examine it to gain knowledge.
    GP: Discovery driven

    3)     Experience: Engage in activities, have meaningful interactions, encounter consequences.
    GP: Action oriented

    4)     Connectedness: Interact with each other to create and build knowledge and understanding.
    GP: Collaboratively motivated

    Archetypes and Sensibilities

    Archetypes are the basic building blocks of 3DLE’s. Each achieves a specific set of learning outcomes and activates a specific macrostructure. I won’t mention the Archetypes as they will be discussed in more detail in chapter 5. To get a feel for the Archetypes and their relationship to the macrostructure, check out figure 4.3 on page 81.

    In a similar way the 7 sensibilities presented in chapter 3 are overlaid on the macrostructure. I will not go into details on these sensibilities here. Please refer to Figure 4.4 on page 82 to see the sensibilities in the wider macrostructure. If you put that picture next to table 3.1 on page 62 you’ll have a full picture.

    A 3DLE Architecture

    Summarizing the overall 3DLE architecture consist of:

    1)     Principles
    2)     Macrostructures
    3)     Archetypes
    4)     Sensibilities

    Alignment of these elements makes the architecture mostly valuable. I was left with the question how does alignment look like… See also figure 4.5 on page 83.

    Top ten 3DLE design principles by Randy Hinrichs.

    Reading through Randy’s principles I mapped how these relate to the earlier presented grounding principles. Some for sure have more links, but I have mapped the one that stood out for me. Have a look at Randy’s principles at page 84 and see if you agree how I mapped.

    1)     It’s not about Me, It’s about We (Collaboratively motivated)
    2)     It’s not about Technology, It’s about Neurology (Discovery driven)
    3)     It’s not about Revolution, It’s about Evolution (Instructionally grounded)
    4)     It’s not about Being There, It’s about Doing There (Activity oriented)
    5)     It’s not about Electrons, It’s about Physics (Contextually situated)
    6)     It’s not about Theory, It’s about Rapid Feedback (Consequently experienced)
    7)     It’s not about Application, It’s about Integration (Collaboratively motivated)
    8)     It’s not about Data Base, It’s about Human Race (Collaboratively motivated)
    9)     It’s not about Instructional Design, It’s about Experiential Design (Participant centered)
    10)  It’s not about Globalization, It’s about Localization (Collaboratively motivated)

    Poll question:

    Open-end questions:

    1)     Alignment of the 3DLE architecture is important. See also figure 4.5 on page 83. How does alignment look like when you design a learning event?
    2)     What Key Question(s) for “ The Experiential Principle” would you add to table 4.1?

    First Challenge of the 3d Learning Magician (Chapter 4 un-summary)

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    Why write a summary when you can play a game?


    xpert consultation on creativity tools

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    Dear everybody,

    The following, enclosed expert consultation may be of interest of you.

    It is closely related to the ideas described on “generative learning” in the “Learning in 3D” book. It is not 3D but does focus on essential aspects as co-creation and collaboration. In case you are interested or if you think that it is of interest of the other members of the Reading Group, please feel free to contact Marlies

    Best regards,
    Peter van Rosmalen

    Dear Sir, Madam,

    With this letter we kindly invite you to participate in an electronic brainstorm session focussing on the enhancement of creativity in organisations. To guide our work on computer based creativity support we ask you to share your experiences in a (so called Delphi) expert consultation.

    A Delphi expert consultation consists of a systematic idea exchange.[1]  We would be glad if you could participate in two online sessions with a select group of ca 10-15 experts from academia and industry, to share your experiences and insights on creative practices in organizations.

    This expert consultation is organised in the context of a European project, idSpace .This project aims at the development of a prototypical platform to facilitate collaborative creativity in distributed work sessions.
    For us your insight will be very valuable for the continuation of our work. For you the contact with other experts, the preview of the idSpace platform and the Delphi results might be interesting.

    We have organized the (Delphi) sessions in and electronic format so that it easily fits into your agenda. The whole Delphi will take about 3 hours of time, during a period of less than 2 weeks. You don’t need to be on line at a specific meeting time of the day. You can decide yourself when this activity suits you best.

    As for the planning of this Delphi there is the following option:
    *       Between the 1st  and 6th  of June

    During this period we will ask you to formulate as many statements as possible regarding core questions asked.  We hope to explore and reflect with you on your ideas on creative practices and needs of your organizations, today and in the near future (in the 1st session). Further on (in the 2nd session) we will focus on the usefulness of supportive tooling and explore how idSpace tries to enhance creativity.
    In return for sharing your expertise with us during this meetings we will offer you a community space to further discuss these and other issues with the other expert team members during one month after the end of the Delphi session. In addition we provide you with  a summary report of the findings.

    After your positive reaction to our invitation you will received a mail explaining the procedure. We will ensure your privacy. Data from the study will be abstracted and anonymous.

    We are looking forward to a hopefully positive reaction.

    Please mail us (latest 24 May) whether you accept our invitation for the session. For further questions mail marlies.bitter AT or phone her at +31(0)45-5762636

    On behalf of the idSpace eDelphi team[2]

    Yours faithfully,
    Marlies Bitter-Rijpkema

    For further information
    on CELSTEC:
    on the Open University of

    1) Delphi study refers to a systematic interactive gathering of information via a panel of representative experts.
    2) The e Delphi team, Marlies Bitter, Jo Boon, Slavi Stoyanov, Kees Pannekeet, Wim Slot.

    Chapter 3 Summary

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    Learning in 3D
    we add context to content
    just like being there.

    Chapter 3 sketches examples of what learning in 3d may look like as compared to the 2d experience, explores some differentiators in Virtual Immersive Environments (VIEs), and conclude with 7 sensibilities of VIEs.

    Unfamiliar environments

    The chapter opens describing a virtual environment where a number of teams are competing to be the first to cross the water to a distant island. Most teams started building a bridge, but as one team is about to bridge the last few meters, they find another team already on the island… having gotten there by flying, since the virtual environment lacks gravity. The instructor points out to the other protesting teams that the point of the exercise is to ensure that each team explored all options in an unfamiliar environment before taking familiar action, and to encourage thinking outside the box.

    The VIE

    Within the concept of the VIE, the authors distinguish between Virtual Social Worlds (VSW) and Massive Multiplayer Online Role Playing Games (MMORPG *). They share some aspects, namely:

    • they both use avatars;
    • are persistent;
    • offer reputational capital;
    • have an immersive environment;
    • are interactive;
    • allow real-time communication;
    • have digital assets for players to own.

    What sets VSWs and MMORPGs apart is:

    • Open world, “sandbox” environment vs. a world bound by narrative;
    • Focus on socialisation and creation vs. focus on achieving goals;
    • User-created content vs. content provided by the game;

    Aspects of both VSWs and MMORPGs can be combined to form an immersive and and engaging 3D learning experience (3DLE). The VIE is the technology; the 3DLE is the experience that is designed within the VIE to foster learning.

    *) Note: these days many people prefer the term MMO, which is less of a mouthful, and in most modern MMOs the role-playing part and the narrative of the quests play second fiddle to the gameplay itself. Also see the end of this summary for an alternative translation.

    2D vs 3D

    The next part of the chapter compares the learning experience in a 2D and 3D scenario, both having to do with the launch of a new product, a drill:

    The 2D experience describes Jane connecting to a typical shared collaboration tool, having a whiteboard, chat window, and a Powerpoint presentation as well as voice comms. Jane flips through the 40 page presentation and half-listens to the presenter while she quickly checks her email and does some other work.  The presentation ends with a slide of the drill with some arrows pointing at new features, followed by a poll.  While Jane doesn’t fully understand everything in the presentation, she clicks “Completely understand” as she doesn’t want to waste other people’s time with further questions.  The class then breaks up into groups to each create a 1-slide presentation on how they would place the drill in a specialty store. After discussing and commenting on each of the presentations, the instructor closes out.

    The 3D environment describes Jack logging into the corporate VIE, and immediate responds to a teleport request from one of his colleagues.  He arrives at an area where 4 teams are already busy examining virtual models of the new drill, trying to find new features. The first team to identify 10 new features earns 20000 “learning bucks” (which are applied towards winning a trip to Hawaii). Some people have pulled up product web pages, others are comparing the new drill to virtual models of the previous version. Jack notices there is new email but he ignores it, focused on the contest. He also notices a team mate “snoozing” and quickly sends him an IM; the team member apparently had to drop out of the VIE to deal with his boss.

    After Jack’s team is declared victor, everyone is shrunk to ant-size and teleported around the now giant drill to review the top 20 new features. The teams then run around the drill to pick up flags that point out the new features that have not yet been covered.

    The facilitator then shows one of the new drills in a virtual display stand. One student asks how the drill might be placed on a regular shop shelf, and the group teleports to a small virtual hardware store, where the instructor shows the new drill in this context. The group does the same at a virtual trade show booth. Jack then volunteers for a little role-play session, where he tries to sell the new model drill to the facilitator at a virtual construction site.

    The group finally teleports back to the virtual learning center, where each team will compete to create the most compelling sales display that highlights the most important benefits of the new model drill. After 20 minutes are up, a group of product managers teleports in, who give feedback on each of the display stands. Jack’s team wins this challenge, and the instructor closes out, after which Jack saves the entire VIE session for later review.

    From Interactivity to Engagement.

    The example of Jack and Jane illustrate how the Immersive Internet impacts online learning, an impact that is expected to grow. Futurist William Halal is quoted as predicting that by 2015 virtual worlds will dominate the internet. The challenge lies in understanding what the Immersive Internet will do to knowledge transfer, work transactions and existing learning paradigms.

    One key aspect of the 3DLE is that it creates a sense of “being there” instead of just looking at the same screen. Such visual and mental cues make recall and application of the learning that occurs more effective. (See the end of the summary for my own experience). The 3DLE offers rich interaction around a task, through activities designed to synthesize conceptual learning through immersive and interactive activity, which also stimulates informal peer-to-peer learning at the same time. In contrast, Jane’s learning experience suffers, not from a lack of interactive tools, but from this lack of immersion in the activity itself.

    A 3DLE has at its core the notion that Interactivity and Immersion achieve a level of Engagement that creates the motivation to learn as a by-product of engaging in an activity, or: I * I = E.   Interaction in a 3DLE is not disembodied and transactional; it is embodied and experiential.   Learning in a 3DLE is closer to an apprenticeship in which one learns by doing, together with others.

    The 7 sensibilities of the VIE

    The authors have identified 7 sensibilities that apply to VIEs:

    1. The sense of self: The avatar becomes an extension of oneself.  People tend to act and behave in a VIE as they would in the real world, and others recognise that behaviour.
    2. The death of distance: Connecting to a virtual world is instant and requires no travel or paperwork.
    3. The power of Presence: being virtually there is almost as good as being physically there.
    4. The sense of Space and Scale: these are flexible; travel to outer space or travel inside a blood vessel becomes possible.
    5. The capability to Co-create: in a VIE, participants can co-create the actual object instead of just a Powerpoint about that object.
    6. The pervasiveness of Practice: In the 3DLE people learn by doing, by completing a number of tasks by trial and error.
    7. The enrichment of Experience: Done right, 3DLEs create compelling and memorable experiences.

    When woven together, these sensibilities create a 3DLE that sets itself apart from 2D learning experiences as follows:

    • More focused presence: it is much harder to multitask in a 3DLE.
    • More authentic learning contexts: in a 3DLE, the learning context is very close to the actual performance environment.
    • Congruent contextual cues facilitate recall: immersion into a 3DLE helps the learner recall the lessons later.
    • Embedded peer-to-peer learning: collaboration emerges naturally in a 3DLE, leading to peer-to-peer learning.

    Implications for educators

    In a 3D generative learnign environment, the role of the traditional training function will become increasingly marginalised.  New methods and training techniques will have to be devised for organisations to be succesful.  This requires that the learning function adopt new learning paradigms.  Learning professionals should lead the Immersive internet change.



    An alternative translation of the MMORPG acronym is: Many Men Online Role-Play Girls, referring to the increasing tendency for players to “roll” avatars of the other gender. 10 years ago, gender switching was rarely done and was considered a little odd. Today, the book quotes 17% of people online switching gender, which may well be right in worlds like Second Life where people have a single virtual identity. In games where one person will likely play multiple avatars, the percentage is much higher.  The question is: what does this mean for the Sense of Self online? 

    As far as “being there”, or the Sense of Self goes… I have held numerous meetings in 3D games, and this does actually come pretty close to being there physically.  Much better in fact than teleconferencing or even videoconferencing.  However, it does take time to achieve this!  One needs to be comfortable controlling one’s avatar first, and be comfortable with the notion of being represented by an avatar.  Only then, the immersion follows.  You’ll probably note that younger generations pick this up immediately, whereas older people may have more trouble.  I write “may” because our experience in Second Life showed that this is a statistical tendency and by no means a hard and fast rule.


    The book seems to present learning in 3D as the driver for change in the way we learn.  To what extend do you think this holds true?  Is 3D the driver, or is it part of a larger shift of emphasis from formal to informal learning?

    What are the implications for educators?  The chapter’s conclusion was rather thin on the subject although it did mention that learning professionals should lead the immersive internet.  Do you think we should lead in this, or follow, and why?

    Summary of “Learning in 3D”, Chapter 2


    Challenging classroom captivation.

    In this chapter the message is that we need to change learning soon. Three issues are identified: classroom captivation, a preoccupation with productivity and seven scary problems.
    These issues when compounded are a serious threat, a disease, that if not addressed will eventually lead to the demise of enterprises.
    Classroom captivation is a routinization trap, “the learning function becoming captive to its own limiting paradigms and marginalizing its value to the enterprise to the point own extinction.”
    Learning function is traditionally tied to the Class paradigm. Class can be seen as a separate environment that stands apart from the rest of the organization. It’s a familiar space for trainers and learners. Class structures the way instruction is being offered and measured. The Class model doesn’t suffice because learning function can’t address the actual learning needs that are demanded. It is lacking behind.
    (What is the educational status quo?)
    The next issue is that learning in the enterprise is primarily focused on productivity. “The goal of productive learning is to get everybody in the organisation to regress to the mean of optimal productivity in performing work activity.” Trainers hold on to this Status Quo assuming “classroom is the optimal design for delivering learning.”

    This approach is contrary to “generative learning that is centered on innovation and has a very different theoretical underpinning.” Here the focus is on growth, developing insight and understanding in a more relevant context. These properties are also the essential ingredients for businesses to survive and prosper in the webvolution era.
    So the basic focus should shift from learning to do things we already know how to do, to collaborate in learning in order to gain new insights and develop new ideas and concepts.

    (So what is keeping us / trainers from changing?)

    Seven scary problems

    There are seven scary problems we fail / have to address:

    1. The autonomous learner problem
    2. The timing problem
    3. The packaging problem
    4. The performance problem
    5. The routinization problem
    6. The transfer problem
    7. The value problem

    The authors describe the problem and highlights the tactical and strategic perspectives.

    The autonomous learner problem.

    Has two core issues:
    First the authors question where the need for learning arises. And how web technologies make it increasingly easy for people to become on demand learners. They argue that this need mainly comes from the work floor. You learn the most by doing the job. Usually learners get offered a formal classroom context learning solution to address their learning needs. Here a disparity occurs between what the learner needs and gets offered. The effort is placed in the area of least impact (because of the limiting impact classroom learning has). The strategic perspective is to recognize that leaving informal learning to chance is a big business risk.

    Timing problem.

    “Business is conducted at the speed of thought.” Two issues associated with work and learning. The sensitivity of the learning needed is at odds with the time it takes to produce formal learning programs. So if formal learning is incapable of timely addressing the learning needs, what strategic value does the central learning function provide?

    Packaging problem.

    2 core issues:

    1. “The format of a course is not aligned with the needs of today’s time starved workforce and courses tend to be organized around topics as opposed to tasks.”
    2. “Courses are organized around topics as opposed to tasks”, “People’s needs and motivation to learn emerges largely from their inability to complete a task in the work context.”
    Procedures run counter to the needs that they serve. So the question is how to offer the right learning, at the right time in the right place? Where ever that may be.. Instant learning solution needed. Alvin Toffler: “any time any place educational parallel?”.

    Performance problem

    The reason why organizations don’t perform can only be attributed for a small part to their lack of knowledge or skill. Studies suggest that lack of skill and knowledge accounts for only 10 percent of enterprise performance issues.
    So the question is how to reposition the value-add of learning around maximizing organization performance?
    (Maybe learning is inappropriate solution for solving this issue?)

    Routinization problem

    Learning focused to much on optimization and speeding up production. This creates a vicious circle:

    Transfer problem

    Acting upon knowledge is different from knowing. 80 to 90 percent of investment in training programs fail to result in behavior change on the job. This pitfall has lead to a situation of self-imposed limits on learning transfer. A “Till here and no further mentality”.
    Can the learning function develop interventions that improve, transfer, change behaviour, and impact performance?

    Value problem

    Misalignment between what executives expect from learning and what learning leaders believe they should be delivering.
    Gain in efficiency doesn’t deliver any significant gain in revenue. So the question asked should be how to shift focus from return on learning investment for training throughput to return on value expected from stakeholders.

    Compounded Marginalization

    The educational status quo is no longer a tenable strategic alternative. Organizations must be ambidextrous / equally adept in using both formal and informal learning function. “They have to simultaneously anticipate and capitalize on growth opportunities while all the time optimizing the cost structure of the enterprise for maximum efficiency”

    An extension is needed from productivity to growth in the performance perspective and from formal to informal in the learning perspective.

    Big losses in opportunity space:

    Big loss 1) Until now learning function has rejected informal learning. Together with the

    autonomous learner problem, the timing and packaging problem that are not being addressed by learning function, this accounts for a 80 percent de-selection of addressable opportunity space for learning.
    Big loss 2) De-selection of 90 percent of the addressable opportunity space for performance
    2 different performance predicaments:
    1. At individual level, learning itself has only jurisdiction over 10 percent of the enterprise performance issues where the root-cause is due to lack of knowledge or skill
    2. Preoccupation with productivity maintains the status quo for both function itself and enterprise it serves by focusing on productive learning over generative learning.

    Preoccupation with productivity drives most activity within training function

    The compounding effect of rejecting informal learning and being preoccupied with productivity is: that you merely increase the efficiency with which you train poorly.

    How must learning function reinvent itself to add strategic value for the digital enterprise?
    • Focusing on networked generative learning approaches would be a significant first step.

    Learning to behave in the context kingdom

    The net has enabled people with unprecedented capabilities. Capabilities that change the way we work and do things. This has profound impact on the enterprise as well, disrupting business models. So change is an absolute necessity.
    “The enterprise that is able to network tap into resource nodes to address a surfaced need within another part of the network will be able to conduct business successfully.”
    “Within this networked ecosystem humans create meaningful context within which content can be consumed and digested to create new value”. (Just as we are doing now…) In the past content was king now context is the kingdom.
    People learn in meaningful context, context is changing, becoming much broader and more accessible..

    “How would our concept of learning in organisations change if learning professionals began to view themselves as facilitators of generative learning?”

    “The pre-eminent challenge .. is the ability to allow enterprise to coalesce its capabilities around unanticipated market opportunity.”

    We need to learn to change, to unlearn old strategies and become familiar with the new reality..

    Learning to change

    Business has changed, the requirements have changed as a result of dynamic market economics. This implies that a wholesale redefinition of how learning adds value to organizations is required.
    • “Successful learning function of the webvolution era will be the ones that learn how to blend people, processes, and technology to drive collective insight and intuition.”
    • Enterprise work structures have to be revisited. Work processes will need to be redesigned to cultivate learning.
    • Change the way they think and act on what is known and what needs to be known in order to innovate change and win.

    A shift to a mode of learning is necessary where we share knowledge of tasks that are new and different


    Generative Learning: a style of organizational learning that encourages experimentation, risk-taking, openness, and system-wide thinking. Organizations have successfully used this style of learning to transform themselves in the face of technological, social, and market change. Adaptive learning is a contrasting approach to organizational learning.

    Comment on Teleconference #1

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    In our call on 26Apr, someone asked what problem we’re trying to solve via this reading group. In my view, the answer is simple; we are trying to enable learning in the workplace, using real work with real work people, real work tools, and real work challenges. I often see a, and often do myself, focus on technology as the solution; however, I think we have a more fundamental challenge well before we get to the technology questions/answers.

    We need to facilitate a mind set change on what/when Learning is and this change needs to happen from the top of the leadership ladder all the way to the front line, on-the-ground working individual. In Shell, we measure multiple things but most are focused on formal, classroom based, learning – how many participants attended, what is the cost per participant, etc. Wouldn’t it be nice if we measured something like how many “routes” were available for someone to learn XYZ on demand and how frequently these routes were being used – or – how much information is available online for growing each competence and which pieces of information were “scored” as best by users? In addition, I’m already seeing instances where Learners don’t want to participate in virtual learning opportunities because it doesn’t involve travel and travel is a treat for them. Of course, in this instance, it’s not really about the learning as much as it’s about the “holiday” away from real work. That speaks volumes about how some view formal classroom learning events and the value they feel they get from them when it comes to really learning something! So, again I ask, is there something we should be doing NOW to start the mind set change so people (leaders and individuals) will be open to doing things differently, more effectively, once we figure out what those things are? I think so but what and how?

    Thanks for listening,
    Denise Wilson
    Manager of Learning Design & Development
    Royal Dutch Shell

    Summary of Chapter 2

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    My summary of chapter 2 is available on my blog:

    My two poll questions are as follows:

    Teleconference #1 – Some Thoughts + Download

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    How to organise the teleconference
    Yesterday we had 11 people in our first reading group teleconference. It was a very short call (30 minutes) and I struggled a bit to give it the right structure. It is hard to have 11 people on the phone who don’t know eachother and have very heterogenous needs. So let me ask you for your thoughts. How would you organise, structure and chair a 30 minute teleconference? Any ideas, please post them in the comments…

    Recording of the teleconference
    I recorded the session. Our teleconferencing system only pumps out .wmv files and I don’t have the time to convert them to .mp3. Feel free to do make the conversion yourself  and repost it if you think that is valuable:

    Download/view Teleconference recording (4.8MB)

    Daily email updates
    Most of you have registered to receive the daily email with updates around the learning group. This email is delivered by a service called Feedburner. Feedburner gets its contents from three separate RSS feeds (one for recent delicious links with the lin3drg tag, one with the Twitter search results for the #lin3drg tag and one with the post of this blog) that I mash together using a trick in Google Reader. I am not completely happy with the results for two reasons:

    • The newest message is at the top instead of at the bottom
    • There seems to be a maximum of twenty messages that it will send out in the email description

    If anybody has a different approach to solving this problem (allowing people to subscribe to the content over email), I would be glad to get some help!

    Delicious links
    We are starting to get a collection of links around particular chapters on Delicious. See this link for an example for chapter 1 of the book. Please make the effort to tag at least one link per chapter with lin3drg and chapterx. This could really be useful to other participants. It doens’t have to be new: what might be very obvious to you, might be very new and refreshing for somebody else.

    “What is the problem?”
    One part of the discussion yesterday focused on the fact that 3D virtual worlds is quite a technology push instead of a business/learning pull. Marcel asked which problem it is we are trying to solve with this technology. I think many of us have an answer to that (see for example Lawrence’s tweet), but we didn’t have time to really address this in the call. Let us use the comments in this post to try and explore what the problem is that 3D virtual worlds are here to solve.

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